I’ve had a slow couple of weeks recently. Not bad weeks, but weeks that didn’t quite feel like I’d done the best I could. So, in order to get out of the funk, I thought I’d write a list of the things that make good weeks go well, and that I hadn’t been doing recently so that I could change it up. Just in case someone else is in the same position, these are the keys to a productive week that I’ve found (so far) that actually work.
PLAN TO TIME RATHER THAN JUST A LONG LIST OF TO DOS
I’ve written at length a few times about organisation and planning, so I don’t know why this one doesn’t always stick but don’t just write a to-do list longer than your arm. There is nothing more off-putting (perhaps other than a blank page) than an overwhelmingly long to do list that you just don’t know where to start with. The best way I’ve found to solve that is to break my to-do list into chunks and then assign those chunks to time blocks, so I’ll give myself an hour and a half to queue my social media on a Saturday and then I do it at a set time. That way I always know what I’m doing when. Pro tip if you’re going to do this though is to schedule in a little buffer time because no matter how well you think you know your own productivity things will always go wrong and having a little breather will mean it doesn’t throw you off course.
SORT OUT YOUR CHORES
If you’re anything like me, and I hope you’re not for your own sake, you’ll end up prioritising the everyday things you need to do over the work that’s on your to-do list. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, you probably do need to do laundry. But if you’re going to decide that you can’t do any real work until the rest of your life is in order, you need a plan of attack for your chores. For me, and we’re back to the time blocking, I have a specified chores period on a Saturday morning, which means that I don’t worry too much about tidying other than making my bed and having a bit of a clear up the rest of the week.
GIVE YOURSELF THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE
Know the conditions you work best in. Are you a morning person? Do you like to be alone or work around people? Do you need peace and quiet? Do you like to do a long chunk of one thing or keep your day varied? Work out what you need in order to be productive and make sure you have those things. I like to work in my own space (I have a weird thing about people walking around me when I’m working) with my headphones on, so as much as possible I sit at my own desk or one in a corner and I make sure my headphones are always charged up. I also know that I don’t work well on an afternoon so I don’t schedule in anything too heavy for 3 pm. It’s so important to work how you work best, and that’s not something I can really help you with other than suggesting you find out for yourself.
SCHEDULE AROUND YOUR SLEEP
This has been something new to my thinking but it’s made such a difference. There was a really bad period this year where I was only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night, I was running on caffeine at work and then finding myself asleep on my desk on a weekend. I knew that something had to change and that I couldn’t keep trying to cram more and more and more into my days. So I started to schedule around my sleep pattern. I start with the time I have to wake up on a morning, then I work back with how much sleep I need, then back again with my wind down time and so on and so forth. Making sleep a priority has made such a difference and has actually meant that I end up doing more in a day even though I’m technically working for less time.
GIVE YOURSELF SOME FUN TIME
Don’t forget to leave yourself time for something you enjoy that could be anything from going out with friends to watching a movie or spending an hour cooking. Give yourself those moments to remind you why you’re working so hard and also help you recharge. If you’re not having fun, something has to change. This is your life and it can’t all be about work as much as you might have conned yourself into thinking that it is (that last sentence is very firmly aimed at myself).
How do you plan a productive week? What are your keys to success?